After a terrible start to the 2012 season for the Atlanta Braves (three-game sweep in New York), they have bounced back and are currently in third place in the National League East. At 7-5, the team has seen their offense come alive with Jason Heyward and Brian McCann, while Randall Delgado and Tommy Hanson have led the way for the starting rotation. The team will travel to Arizona to battle the Diamondbacks in a four-game series beginning on April 19. Which team has the edge with the starting pitching matchups?
Thursday, April 19, 2012, 9:40 pm. ET: Mike Minor vs. Josh Collmenter
Minor had a great Spring Training for the Braves this season, but has struggled in his first start. He bounced back in his second start, allowing one unearned run in 7 1/3 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers and will look to continue his success in the series opener.
Collmenter was 10-10 a year ago and has struggled mightily in 2012. In two starts, he has lasted just seven innings, allowing 10 hits and 10 earned runs with a batting average against of .323. He has pitched well against the Braves in his two career starts, going 1-1 with a 0.69 ERA.
Friday, April 20, 2012, 9:40 p.m. ET: Brandon Beachy vs. Trevor Cahill
Beachy was one of the nicest surprises from the 2011 Braves and has continued his success through the first two starts of 2012. He is 1-1 with a 0.75 ERA and was doomed in his first start by four Atlanta errors. In 12 innings, he has allowed just one earned run and batters are hitting just .159 against him.
Cahill is in his first season with the Diamondbacks and is still trying to find his rhythm from the 2010 season, when he went 18-8 with the Oakland Athletics. He has held opposing batters to a .143 average, giving up just two earned runs in 13 1/3 innings this season.
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 8:10 p.m. ET: Tommy Hanson vs. Joe Saunders
The Atlanta ace is looking to get his record back to .500 with a win against Saunders. Hanson was the Opening Day starter for the Braves and is 1-2 in three starts. He has gone 17 innings in three starts, showing a certain inability to last deeper into the games. He has allowed 15 hits and eight walks, starting the season off with the worst WHIP of his career.
For Saunders, 2012 has been filled with two high-quality starts, bouncing back in the early going from a 12-13 mark in 2011. He has allowed just one earned run in 14 innings, with nine strikeouts and four walks.
Sunday, April 22, 2012, 4:10 p.m. ET: Randall Delgado vs. Ian Kennedy
The series finale will put one of the Braves top young starters against the best Diamondbacks pitcher from 2011. The talented rookie is 2-0 for Atlanta this season, recording 11 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings. He has already allowed 17 base runners, but he has found a way to allow just five to score, keeping the team in those games.
Kennedy is following up his 21-4 2011 season nicely through three starts. He is also 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA, but has also allowed his share of base runners. In 18 2/3 innings, he has allowed 25 batters to reach base with hits or walks, but also has 17 strikeouts.
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Hobson Lopes has been a life-long Atlanta Braves fan, thanks to TBS, and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes.